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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds its Academy Awards ceremony every year to award its Oscars to the most deserving people in the film industry – both for artistic and technical merit. They give awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Animated Feature, and for a whole host of other categories. These awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievement as selected by the Academy’s voting membership.
Well, at least the awards are supposed to be given to the most deserving. Of course, there has always been an element of politics involved, as those up for awards are often very active in their efforts to persuade the voting members to vote for them. But overall, “the cream does rise to the top.” Well, at least it used to. Seemingly, a new dynamic will be coming into play that will make the award even less based on merit.
The Academy has recently announced a new set of requirements for films to be eligible for its awards. These new requirements have nothing to do with artistic and technical merit. Rather, they are arbitrary rules that they are putting in place in an effort to “increase representation and inclusion in Hollywood.” It is Hollywood’s latest attempt to show how “woke” they are.
These new rules are to go into effect in 2024. At that time, nominees must meet requirements that have been designed to “encourage equitable representation on and off screen.” In plain language, that means they have to meet quotas to ensure that more people who fit into various minority categories fill positions related to movie making from the starring role to interns, and even to the companies used for marketing and film distribution.
To be eligible for the award, production companies must submit an “Academy Inclusion Standards Form.” One standard requires meeting at least one of the following criteria:
- At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors must belong to a marginilalized group (Asian, Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African American, Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native, Middle Eastern/North African, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, or another under represented race or ethnicity.)
- At least 30% of actors in “secondary and more minor roles” must be occupied by women, LGBTQ+, members of a racial or ethnic group, people with cognitive or physical disabilities, or people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- The main storyline(s), theme, or narrative of the film must be centered on an under-represented group or groups such as: women, members of a racial or ethnic group, LGBTQ+, people with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing.
There are additional standards that relate to the composition of behind the scenes people working on the film, as well – people in apprenticeship and internship positions, distribution and financing, as well as marketing and publicity. Essentially what they are setting up is an affirmative action program for their business.
Now it is certainly an admirable thing that the Academy wants to be inclusive. But doing it using quotas is discriminatory – and you don’t defeat discrimination by using discrimination. What this approach tells you is that the ultimate goal is not to defeat discrimination – it is to achieve a politically correct end using an “ends justifies the means” mentality.
The trouble is, discrimination is a heart problem, not a political one. And it cannot be solved using political means. The Academy may get the film producers to meet their quotas, but in doing so, all they will be doing is substituting supposed discrimination against one group for discrimination against another.
Some may call me naive for holding forth an ideal based on merit rather than on quotas. I say, call me naive all you want. God does not discriminate that way, and he has set forth his own character as the ideal humans should strive toward. It is God’s ideals that represent a biblical worldview. I prefer to use God’s ideal as a standard rather than the arbitrary, discriminatory standards of the Academy. And it can be done if the people who are a part of the system have a right heart and mind.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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